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Attending Virtual Meetings: An Etiquette Guide

virtual meeting attendee man on a phone video chatting

A lot has changed about business in the last few weeks. Dining rooms have become home offices. Kids have become coworkers. Meetings have become virtual. Instead of gathering around conference room tables, we are finding new ways to be productive together while staying apart. While these technological capabilities are critical to supporting business functions, they have changed the rules for meeting etiquette.

Before the Meeting

You may not be hosting the meeting, but that doesn’t decrease your need for preparation. All attendees contribute to the efficiency and success of a virtual meeting.

Test Your Technology

Test your technology ahead of time, including cameras and audio devices like headsets or headphones. Check to be sure your background is clear and work appropriate for video calls. If necessary, blur your background or set a virtual one before joining the meeting. Adjust your camera angle and lighting in your environment so you are clear and visible. Check your internet connection for proper speed; anything under 20 megabits per second is likely to lead to pixilation and audio delays. Troubleshoot any issues before your meeting to avoid missing any parts of the meeting. As with any in-person meeting, log in at least a few minutes early so the meeting can begin on time.

Understand What is Expected of You

If you are unsure why the host invited you to the meeting, ask! Know what role you are expected to play in the meeting and what you should be ready to contribute. Review the agenda ahead of time and come prepared with relevant questions or comments to add to the discussion. If you are expected to present during the meeting, prepare your material ahead of time and test any technology capabilities you will need.

During the Meeting

The host will drive the meeting but your conduct during a virtual meeting has a direct impact on its success. Make sure you are contributing to a positive, productive experience for all.

Keep Your Microphone Muted

Most video conferencing software will give you the option to join the virtual meeting with your microphone muted. This causes minimal disruption as you join, especially if you are joining after the meeting has started. Throughout the meeting, keep your microphone muted unless you are speaking. This is critical to help overall audio quality for other participants, reduce background noise, and keep the attention on the speaker.

Be Present

Resist the temptation to do other things on your computer or phone during the meeting. If your video is on, your lack of attention will be noticeable and could be distracting for other participants. Even if your video is off, you should be actively listening and contributing where appropriate. Some virtual conferencing software will alert the host if you navigate away from the meeting screen for more than 30 seconds. If you are unable to give the meeting your full attention, decline the invitation.

Turn off notifications

To help you stay focused, turn off notifications and sounds from other applications that may be running. This includes email, instant messaging, update notifications, or others. This is particularly important if you will be screen sharing or speaking at any point during the meeting.

Pace Your Speaking

In virtual meetings, it can be difficult to pick up on those non-verbal cues that someone is going to speak. Audio and video delays can exacerbate the issue and lead to participants unintentionally talking over one another. When you want to chime into the conversation, wait 2-3 seconds after the previous person is finished speaking before starting your sentence. This ensures they are finished with their thought and account for any delays.

After the Meeting

As the meeting is ending, make sure you are clear on any follow up items that have been assigned to you. Take the necessary actions to complete your tasks by their assigned deadline and reach out if you are facing challenges. Most importantly, make sure you are completely disconnected from the call before carrying on with your day.

Read more helpful do’s and don’ts for virtual meetings here.

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